Where is this walk?

Swirl How and Wetherlam

June 9, 2017

Swirl How and Wetherlam tower above Little Langdale. The climb up Great Carrs is up a rocky, interesting and little visited ridge whilst Wetherlam is a complex fell, the best of the Coniston area.

The Walk

Graceful is a word not always used when describing the larger fells to the south of the Lake District. Rugged yes, graceful less so. However the ridges from Swirl How and Wetherlam above Little Langdale are. Wet Side Edge and The Edge form a beautiful horseshoe from the valley below. Of the two I prefer tackling Wet Side Edge on Great Carrs/Swirl How first. The ascent is more gradual and easier on the legs as it curves round south to approach the summit.

The summit of Great Carrs is nothing special. The exception is the remains of a Halifax bomber which crashed at night in October 1944 killing eight airmen (seven Canadians). The cliffs to the east before the summit are dagerous so keep away from the edge. Great Carrs is completely dominated by neighbouring Swirl How.

Wetherlam, which is reached by a steep descent from Swirl How, is one of my favourite Lakeland mountains. The land is potholed with old mining shafts and there are great views over the full Coniston range. The descent off The Edge caps an excellent, but not overly strenuous, day in the fells.


A detour to Grey Friar from Swirl How is worth the extra mile and a half. It is an inconvenient summit at the best of times but has some striking and unusual views of the Scafell range.

Navigation Tips Swirl How and Wetherlam

Care is needed to follow the route from the summit of Swirl How and also the summit of Wetherlam. The paths on this walk are not the most obvious and the start of the ridge from Swirl How appears to disappear over a cliff face.

  • Matt Larkin says:

    Did more or less this walk yesterday, but started at the Wrynose pass summit and headed towards Great Carrs and Swirl How to follow your direction.

    Our only challenge on the route was navigating the path down from Wetherlam to the bridge in the valley which is utterly unmarked, save for some beaten fern further down. Very little evidence of foot traffic at all which left us wondering whether it would have been preferable to continue on the ridge and head towards the stone wall instead and descended that way.

    Our other mistake of course was to have a walk which was ascent, descent, ascent, descent to valley, ascent to car!

  • Richard says:

    Great walk – which we did in the opposite direction. The path up to Wetherlam from the beck is non existant and in the hill fog with a compass baring to guide us was very difficult and potentially hazardous. (I don’t think we were ever on a path.) Harvey maps has this path marked as a right of way ‘without path on the ground’. The rest of the walk was excellent and the cloud cleared just as we were decending.

    Will try it again in good visability on day.

  • Ian says:

    This was a great walk, with the exception of the descent down from Wetherlam back towards Little Langdale via Greenburn Beck. I was using the gpx file (thanks very much by the way, much appreciated) on my Garmin along with an OS map and trying to match up a footpath to the listed right of way with no success. It seems the best route is back around Birk Fell and then following the brick wall down to the beck? Please enlighten me!

  • Pete says:

    Should take about 5 hours, 5.5 if you take in Grey Friar. If you allow 6 that should be plenty. Beware though the path from Swirl How to Wetherlam is very badly erroded and we found it quite a struggle on the 11th June 2016. It’s a great walk though, make sure you visit the site where the Bommber cane down in 1944. One of it’s engines is in the museum in Consiton.

    It was very misty when we did it and made a few navigation errors.

    Hope you enjoy it.

  • Hannah Turnbull says:

    I must say….I love this website. I have planned most my recent mountain days around it, so thankyou!

    I just want to ask, how long do you think this route will take (roughly)? I’m not a particularly fast walker as I burn really hot and struggle to keep body heat down. So bear that in mind. Haha

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